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Eight out of ten Essex, UK firefighters vote for industrial action

Eighty percent of Essex firefighters have voted in favour of industrial action (short of a strike) in opposition to plans to cut frontline firefighters based at stations
80 percent of Essex firefighters voted for industrial action opposing cuts
Essex firefighters show opposition to cuts

8 out of 10 firefighters and fire officers in Essex have voted in favour of industrial action short of a strike against plans to cut one in ten frontline firefighters based at stations.

Fire crews also want managers to negotiate other changes rather than impose them without agreement.

Keith Flynn, Essex FBU brigade chair said: "Essex fire crews have shown their strong opposition to these cuts and other imposed changes. This is a strong mandate and I urge councillors to listen to this clear message from Essex fire crews delivered by the Fire Brigades Union.

"The public did not support these cuts when they were consulted. Now the fire service professionals have rejected these plans.

Ballot result:

  • Number of votes cast in the ballot: 789
  • Number of individuals answering ‘yes': 616
  • Number of individuals answering ‘no': 171
  • Number of spoiled voting paper: 2

Keith Flynn continued: "We are withholding calling action at this stage to allow the fire authority the chance to take a second look at their plans and discuss alternatives with us. This will give the fire authority time to reflect and for negotiations to take place.

"If there is no significant progress we will have little choice other than to put industrial action in place after legal notice.

"These plans will mean cutting one in ten frontline station-based firefighters with fewer of us spread more thinly across the county. That does have an impact on public and firefighter safety.

"There is no doubt savings can be made, but cuts in Essex are only being targeted at frontline crews. Let's take a look at where savings can be made which preserves the frontline emergency service the public and businesses are paying for.

"No one in Essex wants to take any form of industrial action and nothing is inevitable. There is a clear opportunity to reconsider these plans, adopt a joint approach and reach agreement."

Essex Fire and Rescue Service is set to implement a rolling programme of cuts to the frontline 999 emergency response service. The result will be fewer firefighters spread more thinly across Essex, leaving too few firefighters on duty to crew all the fire engines.

The Fire Authority proposes to cut the number of firefighters by "managed vacancies" from 954 firefighters in December 2008, to an average of 940 during 2008/9, to 920 during 2009/10, to 905 in March 2010.

Forty four of those jobs - one in ten of the frontline fire station based crews -would go by changing the way higher reach aerial ladder platforms and rescue tenders are crewed. The impact would be there would not be enough firefighters to crew all appliances, even if they were needed in a 999 emergency.

The union has also objected to a number of other changes which it says local managers are trying to impose rather than negotiate.

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